Working at For-Profit vs. Non-Profit Hospitals


There are two main types of hospital systems: for-profit and non-profit. Despite fundamental differences, there are many great hospitals that fall under both categories. Here are a few of the main differences to consider when applying for a job.


1. Salary & Bonuses


An important factor when considering any job is the salary that your employer will offer you. As a RN who has worked for both for-profit and non-profit hospital systems, I can say that the differences aren’t as drastic as you may believe.

Just because a hospital system is non-profit does not mean that they don’t try to make money and cut costs when they can. Instead, the majority of their profits are going into new equipment, new buildings, and other improvements to the system–not going directly to your wallet.

In my experience, for-profit hospital systems seem to offer slightly higher salaries and better benefits packages including better 401K options. The differences aren’t huge, but I would give a slight edge to the for-profit hospitals in this regard.


Although for-profit hospitals may offer higher salaries, they don’t seem to always offer the best bonuses. Perhaps this is because non-profit organizations can afford to write off a higher amount of profits to bonuses. All of their profits have to go back into the system anyways, and this is a great way to maintain a happy staff and boost employee retention.

The big bonuses in for-profit hospitals seem to go towards the management folks at the top.


2. Facilities & Equipment


Non-profit organizations can afford to spend more money towards building new facilities and renovating existing ones. Because of this, most non-profit facilities tend to be nicer all around compared to for-profit organizations which tend to put these upgrades aside to spend money elsewhere.


Non-profit hospitals can afford to splurge on the nicest technology and equipment. For-profit hospitals could do this as well, but typically choose to postpone this as much as possible, as they see it as an unnecessary expense.

However, from a worker bee’s perspective, it’s much better to have the best available software to chart on, and the nicest tools and supplies at my disposal to help me do my job.


3. Staffing

Staffing is one of those issues that never seems to be satisfied no matter where you go. I have found no significant difference between both types of hospital systems. I feel like this is mainly a unit specific problem, and some directors address this better than others.

It is ironic to me that we hear about the “nursing shortage” all the time and when new grads start to enter the workforce and find their first job, they frequently complain about how difficult it is.

In contrast, those of us with jobs are constantly noticing how we are understaffed and seeing vacant job openings posted for our units… interesting.